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Engaging Methuen Readers


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The End Is Near And It’s Going To Be Extremely Entertaining

Tired of the weird weather? Worried about the future of our planet and, more to the point, of our species? Can’t help you there! However, I can recommend some pretty good literature to help us all cope with the new normal.

 

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

o&c.jpgA society of excess and poverty. A planet permanently perched on the edge of disaster. A mad scientist willing to give it a little tip. As a genius plots the death of humanity, he simultaneously engineers its successors: people who will be better. But what does better mean when the alternative is the destruction of life on Earth? This first installment in the famous Maddaddam trilogy will freeze your heart and give you hope at the same time.

 

 

 

The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi

windupWelcome to the inundated world: inundated with water, disease, temperature, starvation, and people. If you want to use electricity, prepare to wind up a spring by hand. If you want to survive…well, good luck. Unless you’re synthetic, of course. Artificial humans are a subclass and subject to discrimination, but they may just be the salvation of intelligent life on Earth.

 

 

 

California by Edan Lepucki

california.jpgIn turbulent times, people often try to wait to bring a new life into the world. In many cases, they try unsuccessfully. When Cal and Frida find out that they’re pregnant, they need to reconcile the hard post-climate change life they struggle through with their need to protect and nurture their child. Worse, they’ll need to find other humans who they can trust.

 

 

 

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

odds against.jpgMitchell’s job is to expect the worst. He drafts worst-case scenarios for giant companies so that they can prepare, and business is good. But when Manhattan is destroyed by a hurricane, Mitchell has to come to terms with the fact that he’s profiting off of disaster. Meanwhile, the woman who may be his true love waits on a commune in Maine with her own end-times secret.

 

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Feats of Clay

Ah, March! Theoretically it’s warming up, but who’s to say when a snowstorm will hit? This time of the year defines unpredictability. What better time to develop a hobby? Get your hands dirty and make something gorgeous! Here’s everything you need to start making pottery – aside from the clay and equipment, of course.

pottery1The Craft of the Potter by Michael Casson

From hand-building to wheel-throwing, this book will introduce you to the mystical, manual art of pot creation. Become one with the ancient tradition of earthenware! Though some of its focus is on stunning examples of genius in clay throughout the ages, this book also features step-by-step guides to various pottery techniques.

 

 

pottery2Fired Up With Raku by Irene Poulton

Raku is how you make jaws drop. This stunning Japanese pottery finish technique relies as much on the will of the furnace as on the skill of the artist. What you create will be a collaboration between you and the spirit of fire. Plus, it’s metal as heck! (Seriously. A lot of the glazes you use in pottery are metal-based.)

 

 

pottery3.jpgThe Big Book of Ceramics by Joaquim Chavarria

If you’re looking for a good, all-in-one roundup of everything pottery, then look no further. This book is the soup-to-nuts guide to all things clay, including firing techniques, custom design strategies, and the history of claywork. Also, color photos!

 

 

BONUS:

sewingpotterySewing Pottery by Machine by Barbara Warholic

What? You say you’re not interested in getting fancy expensive dirt under your nails? Good! You can make pottery using nice, soft, clean, warm, cheap fabric. It’s true! It’s not hugely difficult to learn how to sew pots and the results look incredible. Plus, all you need is fabric, cord, and a sewing machine. What could be simpler? Now you can use your old clothes to make stylish storage solutions for all your yarn! #metacrafting


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Read anywhere with Libby!

You may already know about the Nevins Library’s many different e-book borrowing methods. We even wrote a post about them recently. You may even be using them at an increasingly rapid rate, judging by the anonymized statistics that the library gets from the companies that provide our digital books. But did you know that borrowing e-books is now easier and more fun than ever before? That’s right: there’s a new app in town, and it’s called Libby. Once you try it, you’ll see why we love it.

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Libby is strictly for mobile. It’s an interface made for your phone or tablet, so don’t try and download it for your laptop or desktop computer. It draws from the OverDrive catalog, just like the old OverDrive app did. Think of Libby and the OverDrive app as two phones that can call the same number. In this analogy, the OverDrive app is a rotary and Libby is a smartphone. They both dial into OverDrive, but one is way faster and more fun to use than the other.

Libby features an easy-to-use interface that lets you return, renew, and read books with greater ease than ever. Instead of navigating a maze of directions to log in and borrow books, Libby keeps you logged in and even stores multiple cards at the touch of a button. Then, when you want to borrow a title, two taps get you the literary lusciousness that you crave. The item downloads right to your phone over wifi and then it’s yours for 21 sweet days of bliss. (Remember how the OverDrive app used to burn out your data plan? Libby will only download over wifi unless you expressly tell it otherwise.)

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Two-tap returns and – yes – renewals make Libby the easy choice for the discerning reader. Best of all, the entire system is completely intuitive. Once you download, you’ll be amazed that you ever used anything else.

Remember, if you ever need help with a reading app, you can always ask the staff of the Nevins Memorial Library for assistance. We’re available from 9:00am to 9:00pm every Monday through Thursday, as well as 9:00am to 5:00pm on Fridays and on Saturdays in the winter.


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Snow-ence Fiction

Massachusetts just had its first big snow of the season – but not its last! We greet snow with a unique mixture of delight and misery. Our mixed feelings produce a sense of mystical wonder surrounding white-frosted pines, falling flakes of crystal ice, and yeti. This may be why snow features so prominently in speculative fiction. If you just can’t get enough stark, ominous white snowscapes in your life, try these reads.

 

snowpiercer_vol_1_the_escape_coverSnowpiercer by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette

This list would not be complete without this graphic novel classic, which was recently turned into a gripping, atmospheric film. Humanity is doomed: worldwide arctic temperatures have made the planet uninhabitable. The last survivors travel endlessly on a train that represents the last vestige of the technological marvel that was civilization. But there *is* a kind of society: one that privileges the few first-class travelers and grinds the rest underfoot. When the third class passengers revolt, the first class discovers that there’s nowhere to run…

 

01The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Young Lyra, a child of mysterious nobility, haunts the Oxford halls with her daemon. But a great conspiracy is afoot that threatens the very essence of humanity, and Lyra is at its heart. In order to prevent disaster, she will have to journey into the Arctic north, befriending armored polar bears and witches.

 

 

41mckp1f7fl-_sx332_bo1204203200_Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Also published as Let the Right One In, this book has been the subject of two films. There’s a new girl next door. Oskar is immediately fascinated, and not only because she seems old beyond her years. Eli only comes out at night…and she’s interested in Oskar for a much darker reason. As snow falls on Sweden, a young boy will come to know that some horror resides in which promises you make and keep.

 

 

6068551Shiver by Maggie Steifvater

The wolves behind Grace’s house watch her every winter. But one in particular is more than just hungry. In the summer, he’ll turn into a human, and when that happens, he and Grace will meet again. This time, sparks will fly. Steamy romance will…romanticate. This book draws a lot of valid comparisons to Twilight. It’s Twilight with snow and a wolf. So if you love Stephanie Meyers, you’ll love this. If not, well, better go with Snowpiercer.


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Book to Screen

We live in a magical age. The wonders of the written universe, previously confined to the boxes between our ears, now cascade across the silver screen in hi-def, 3-D glory. Several book-to-film adaptations will hit the ground within the next year, and what better way to celebrate than to rush the theater?

Except, of course, to wait for a public library to loan DVD copies six months after release.

Here, for your viewing and borrowing pleasure, are the books coming out on film that we’re most excited about.

January

The Leisure Seeker

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Michael Zadoorian’s famous 2009 travelogue finally makes it to its destination: the screen. Like the book, this film will follow the freewheeling adventures of two escapees from a retirement home.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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The final installment of the Maze Runner trilogy sees our heroes trapped in…well…another maze. The book’s plot is fairly complicated, in a way that involves the big evil villainous organization actually being named “WICKED,” so we won’t go into it here. Basically, it’s the third book in a series by James Dashner and is targeted toward young adults.

 

February

Annihilation

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If you haven’t read Jeff VanderMeer, you’re missing out. His work falls into the elite category of literary science fiction, something not exclusive to space opera geeks or hardcore Trekkies. Annihilation is an atmospheric, unsettling, and sophisticated read. It’s definitely one to check out before the movie drops in February.

Fifty Shades Freed

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Meet Mrs. Anastasia Grey, now the wife of mega-rich quasi-reformed sadist Christian Grey. The plot, which is a ridiculous mess, encompasses the same violence and jealous shenanigans that we’ve come to expect from the series, except now there’s a baby in the mix too. If they were real people, their lives would be a train wreck, but they’re not, so just have fun with it. Here’s the book. It is, as you probably know, the third in the series that begins with Fifty Shades of Grey.

Peter Rabbit

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Fans of the classic Beatrix Potter story will love or hate that Peter is coming to screen in CGI. The plot, which was endearingly simply in the book, has also been souped up significantly by the addition of a neighbor to Mr. MacGregor who both loves animals and – potentially – grouchy old farmers. Will Peter and Mr. MacGregor finally become friends? Will this adaptation live up to the book’s reputation? We’ll see in February!

The War With Grandpa

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The mischievous hijinks of a boy and his grandpa, which have delighted readers since 1984, are sure to translate well to the big screen. Expect a lot of slapstick, a little poignancy, and Robert DeNiro.

 

March

Red Sparrow

Trained against her will as a femme fatale for the Russian government, Dominika rebels against her training when she meets the man who steals her heart. Thus, through the power of love, Dominika becomes a double double agent. The spy games thrill and so will Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika, but it’s hard to imagine the movie being a better ride than the book.

A Wrinkle in Time

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Disney has taken on Madeline L’Engle’s trippy, spiritual sci-fi classic A Wrinkle in Time and turned it into what looks like a faithful adaptation. Considering that the book incolves space-time travel, basically magic and psychic powers, this is a significant achievement. The trailer even features an especially creepy ball-bouncing scene. (If you haven’t read the book, you don’t know what I’m talking about. Just trust me. It’s spookier than it sounds.)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Love, Simon)

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Ah, young love. Ah, young closeted love. Ah, young closeted love being blackmailed by a malicious classmate in a high school where coming out may or may not be a good option. Somehow, the situation becomes humorous and hilarity does ensue. The book is a critical and popular hit and the movie, renamed “Love, Simon,” may do well with the teen crowd.

Ready Player One

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This is a story whose day has come. Ernest Cline’s story of retro video games, immersive VR, and a real world that just sucks for the little guy resonates now like never before. That said, the book already has a significant cult following and anticipation for this film is high.

Death Wish

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They killed his family and now he’s going to kill them! An ordinary man hunts down the people who hunted down his family. Sadly, the library does not stock any copies of Brian Garfield’s original novel, Death Wish. Though it’s based on the 1972 book, this movie is primarily a remake of a former move by the same name that was also based on the book.

 

April

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

It’s a tale of love, humor, and a book club up to no good in German-occupied British territory during World War II. The book was a New York Times bestseller and perennial book club favorite, and the movie promises to be a wonderful first date event for hundreds of couples nationwide.

 

May

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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Sometimes, you just have to run to the ends of the Earth. That’s what Bernadette does when she’s confronted with the unpleasant reality of her life in the form of a family intervention. Lost without her mother, Bernadette’s daughter Bee immediately launches into detective mode. The movie will be directed by Richard Linklater and will hopefully be as hilarious and heartwrenching as the book was.

 

August

Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel Chu thinks she’s doing pretty well at life. She’s got a career in academia and a nice boyfriend who wants her to meet the family. They’re some of the richest people in Singapore and to say that they’ve got drama is to vastly undersell the concept of drama. Also, her nice boyfriend happens to be one of the most eligible bachelors in Asia and every other woman she meets wishes she was dead. The book’s author, Kevin Kwan, set out to introduce America to the wealthy elites of Singapore. The movie is bound to be larger than life.

The Meg

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It’s a giant shark movie based on a giant shark book. Let’s not overthink this one. If you don’t have enough giant shark in your life after seeing this movie in August, check out the rest of the Meg series.

 

September

The House With A Clock In Its Walls

John Bellairs is known for his creeptastic children’s books, one of which this movie is based upon. The film will star Jack Black and feature a clock that can end the world.

Boy Erased

This film is based on a memoir, and the memoir is about the author’s experience in religious ex-gay conversion therapy, so brace yourself: everything depicted on screen actually happened. It’s likely to be intense.

The Darkest Minds

The kids who don’t die of disease develop strange superpowers, and of course the government wants to lock them up and study them. The book is a YA hit and the movie comes out in the same rough time frame as another “X-Men” film.

 

October

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Steig Larsson may be gone, but his series lives on. This installment sees Lisbeth Salander facing down a shadowy organization and probably looking super-cool.

First Man

It’s easy to identify Neil Armstrong as the first man on the moon, but who was he? The book and the movie both seek to answer this question.

 

 


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Believe me

Halloween just passed, but for those of you who aren’t ready to cede their horror reading for cozy holiday books, Anna has some more chilling tales for you…

Tired of the same witches, zombies, and werewolves? Dude, you and me both. Remember when Halloween was about Odin chasing you to Hell with his pack of demon dogs? Or, or, or, wait – what about when Halloween was about malicious water fiends waiting hungrily to drown you in your own toilet? Or what about when Halloween was about a long-limbed Internet horror that inspires children to kill each other?

At some point in history, sometimes quite recently, each of these terrors were considered real by some human living on Earth. They were taken 100% seriously and people were legitimately afraid of them and driven to weird extremes because of them.

The horror isn’t that the king of the gods is angry, or hungry, or insane, or whatever. Slenderman is just a bunch of doctored pixels. What’s scary is that people believe in him.

Belief can’t be stopped or killed. Belief will come for you until it wins. It will wait in the darkness at night and deprive you of sleep until your blurry eyes see what it wants you to, until your exhausted heart hammers itself out of your chest, until the rabbit in your mind runs in panic until it collapses, chest heaving in a rapid tempo of gasps for the last remaining air in the world.

Let’s see how scary belief can be.

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guin

Jim Jones was a charismatic man. His followers thought he’d been touched by God, so jeffguinn-theroadtojonestownmuch so that they abandoned their lives and followed him to another continent to establish a new world. But what do you do when your prophet goes insane…and orders everyone to die?

This true story, a new take on the horrifying tragedy of the Jonestown mass suicide, will keep you reading well into the night. As Guin delves through FBI files in search of the truth, he plumbs the depths of Jim Jones’s madness, eventually retracing the steps of the man himself to visit the place where the massacre actually happened.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

834421Sometimes people do things because they’ve always done them. Some people cut the end off the turkey because great-grandma taught them to do that, never mind the fact that great-grandma’s pan, long melted to scrap, was simply an inch too short to accommodate the whole bird.

Other people stone each other to death. Nobody even remembers why they do that.

Still chilling years after its publication, this masterwork of psychological horror stands with Jackson’s repertoire of quietly heart-stopping psychological horror stories collected in this gripping volume.

It by Stephen King

There is a clown in the sewer. He lives on your fear of him. It doesn’t matter if you find 41acskyedwl-_sy445_ql70_that implausible. He’ll show you. He’ll convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s real. And he’ll do it by eating your friends first…

There’s no way to defeat the fiend of Derry, Maine except by mastering your own fear first. Yet fear is what it knows, what it’s good at…and what it demands. A group of children face It and barely survive…only to confront the true horror as adults.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

 

bird_box_2014_book_coverSeeing isn’t always believing. Sometimes, if your belief is strong enough, you know not to even look. But then, there’s also the possibility that you’re wrong. That’s what Malorie must face – or not face – when she must evacuate her children away from a monster that causes rational people to go violently insane with a single glance. As she guides their rowboat – blindfolded – Malorie knows that she’s being followed, knows she’s being watched…but is knowledge alone enough to save her family?


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Review: “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville

The back of Perdido Street Station dismally fails to capture it in summary. Oddly, it succeeds for exactly this reason, drawing people into the book through what are essentially false premises. By the time the hapless reader understands that they have been duped, it is too late. They are too far into the snare and there is no escape from the land of Bas-Lag.

Here’s the blurb:

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies the city of New Crobuzon, where the unsavory deal is stranger to no one–not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist who has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before encountered. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger. Soon an eerie metamorphosis will occur that will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon–and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it evokes.

The blurb gets a few things right, namely that Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, a brilliant but unfocused dabbler in several scientific pursuits, is the primary focus of the book. However, the rest sucks. So I’m going to write a few better descriptions that the good people of Del Rey are free to borrow in exchange for a slice of royalties.

A visit from a mutilated foreign stranger sends scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin

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Artist unknown. Saved from Pinterest

careening down a dangerous path that leads through the twisted streets and various dens of criminal activity that is the city of New Crobuzon. Along the way, he’ll hatch a deadly public health threat from its pupa, disrupt the drug trade and its maniacal mobster kingpin, and confront the most fearsome menace of all: his own closest friend. As the hum of New Crobuzon is replaced by nightmare screams and its many alleys grow dark with fear, Isaac must risk everything to save the city that he loves.

See, THIS description pulls in the city of New Crobuzon itself, which represents a vivid backdrop to the tale, while implying a decent threat level that does not rope in the *entirely incidental* Ambassador of Hell.

However, there are some issues with this description, too. After all, the cast of characters in Perdido Street Station is expansive. Let’s see if we can’t introduce a couple other people.

 

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Artist unknown. Saved from Pinterest

A chilling misstep by a hapless scientist unleashes a fate worse than death on the city of New Crobuzon. Now Isaac  Dan der Grimnebuilin must bear the burden of his mistake and repair the damage before more of his friends die. Meanwhile, Isaac’s girlfriend, half-insect artist Lin, struggles with a commission that may have everything to do with the accident, while the mysterious wingless bird-man, Yagharek, wanders the city in search of his lost power of flight. Together, they will join forces with criminals and drug addicts, inter-dimensional demigods and monsters made of gears and wheels, only to face the difficult truth: it may already be too late…

This isn’t bad at all! See? Already better than that first blurb! But what it *doesn’t* capture is the Steampunk aesthetic of New Crobuzon and the roiling wave of political tension upon which the story bucks and sways for the duration of the book.

In a city that runs on both steam and thaumatergical magic, where the political elite soar in blimps and the polity ride in taxis pulled by machines that may yet become sentient, the punishment for transgression is worse than death. But that threat can’t equal the rewards: the scientist who discovers how to make a mutilated bird-man fly could generate unlimited energy and finally correct the many social ills of New Crobuzon. But when Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin goes too far, the consequences of his research reverberate through the twisted streets of brick and stone, even as far as the great copper thinking machine that hides in the city’s expansive dump and into dimensions where enormous forces communicate in transcendent poetry. All centers on the city’s hub and center of government: Perdido Street Station, from whence all trains travel and where all dangerous things end up sooner or later.

Et voila: you now have a decent idea of what Perdido Street Station is about. Therefore, you also have no excuse to not go and borrow it from the library today.

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Artist unknown. Saved from Curufea.com